Conservatives want to use rarely used tactics to condemn the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada

Conservatives hope to invoke a rarely used procedure to publicly condemn the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada for refusing to provide unedited documents related to the dismissal of two scientists from Canada’s highest security laboratory.

The leader of the Conservative House of Representatives, Gerald Delter, filed a motion on Wednesday, demanding that PHAC be found in contempt of Parliament and its chairman Ian Stewart and will be summoned to the House of Representatives to accept the speaker’s admonition.

The motion stated that Stewart will also hand over the documents that opposition lawmakers in the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations have been requesting for months.

Soon after Speaker Anthony Rota sided with the opposition and ruled that the House of Commons and its committees have the power to order any documents they like, even those related to national security, Delter took action.

Rota ruled that the Trudeau government did not comply with an order passed by the House of Commons earlier this month to produce these documents. Therefore, he said that there is preliminary evidence that it violates the privileges of members of Congress.

Opposition lawmakers have been demanding to know why the two Chinese scientists were eventually fired from the Winnipeg National Microbiology Laboratory. (Trevor Lyons/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Nuclear option

Usually, after such a ruling is made, a motion of reprimand or a motion to submit the matter to the committee for further study.

But the Library of Congress pointed out that the Conservative Party chose to go further, citing nuclear program options that have not been used against ordinary citizens since 1913.

Since 1913, it has only been used twice, both times condemning members of Congress-New Democrat Ian Waddell in 1991, and Keith Martin, a Canadian Union member in 2002. Both were dragged to the bar in the House of Representatives-a brass railing designed to prevent strangers from entering the chamber-and were condemned for grabbing the ceremonial scepter during the proceedings in the House of Commons.

Delter’s motion was debated for a long time on Wednesday and will be voted on on Thursday. If it passes-which seems likely to be because the opposition’s requirements for documents are unanimous-Stewart will be required to appear in court on Monday.

Delter believes that such a rare step by the House of Commons is crucial because it is related to transparency, Canadians’ confidence in their institutions, the power of the House of Commons, and the preservation of Canadian democracy.

In July 2019, Qiu Xiangguo and her husband Cheng Keding were escorted out of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is still investigating possible “policy violations” reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada. (Governor’s Innovation Award)

Scientists escorted out of Winnipeg laboratory

Opposition lawmakers in the Canada-China Committee have been requesting these documents for months as they tried to find out why PHAC terminated the employment of scientists Qiu Xiangguo and her husband Cheng Keding in January.

The couple were escorted out of the National Microbiology Laboratory in July 2019 because PHAC stated that they were “related to possible violations of safety agreements”.

The Winnipeg Laboratory is the only Level 4 laboratory in Canada, designed to safely handle deadly infectious bacteria such as Ebola.

Both Stewart and Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that their dismissal had nothing to do with the fact that Qiu supervised the delivery of Ebola and Henipa to Wuhan Virus Research Institute in China in March 2019.

They also stated that it has nothing to do with COVID-19, which is a coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, China. Some people believe that it may have been accidentally released by the Institute of Virology.

Nonetheless, the opposition party is determined to review the unedited documents regarding the transfer of the virus to the institute and the subsequent dismissal of the two scientists, and continues to imply that there may be a connection between the two.

Stewart twice refused to comply with the commission’s order to provide these documents, saying that federal judicial officials had informed him that this would violate privacy laws, could interfere with ongoing police investigations and endanger national security.

The Liberal Party ignores House orders

Opposition parties joined forces to pass a motion in the House of Commons earlier this month requiring PHAC to hand over all unedited documents to parliamentary legal assistants, who will secretly review these documents and edit what he believes would endanger national security or an ongoing police investigation. Any content.

It clearly pointed out that the Canada-China Relations Committee may choose to disclose any edited material after consulting with legal assistants.

The minority Liberal government ignored the orders of the House of Representatives and provided unedited documents to members of the all-party National Security and Intelligence Committee. Members of the committee must obtain the highest security clearance and must maintain confidentiality.

But Rota ruled on Wednesday that this is not an acceptable alternative because the National Security Council is a relatively new institution created by the Trudeau government, not a standing committee of Parliament.

He ruled that the power of the House of Representatives or its committees to order the production of sensitive documents and decide what to do with them is unlimited.

“The House of Representatives, not the government, decides how to review such documents and what safeguards (if any) are taken,” Rota ruled.

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